Emergency Services? Dial 108! Dialling 108 connects to emergency medical, fire and police services in two Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat. It takes an average of 20 minutes for a fully equipped ambulance, with a well-trained medical techni cian, to arrive. A doctor from a call centre is in constant contact with the emergency technician beside the patient. Dispatchers use upto-the-minute computer-generated traffic information to direct the ambulance along the shortest route to the hospital. Soon this service, provided by the Emergency Management Research Institute (EMRI), will be available throughout India.How it works
EMRI dispatch centres are modern marvels. Addresses and map locations of fixed line callers are displayed on computer screens that summarise their call histories. The lines are then transferred to medical, police and fire professionals for action. By the time the call reaches the doctor, the location of nearby ambulances and local hospitals together with data describing available hospital services is on the screen. Life-saving procedures can become accessible within the golden hour, the crucial first hour following the emergency crisis.
A single call centre handles calls from an entire state. In Andhra, EMRI fields a fleet of 500 ambulances, staffed by about 3000 qualified medical technicians and drivers.
Estimates indicate that about 22,000 lives were saved in Andhra last year through such interventions. This EMRI service is slated to become available throughout India with 10,000 ambulances by 2010.
Remote Medical Care? Now call 104! Call from anywhere in Andhra, and you will be connected to qualified professionals providing free medical advice over the phone. The service, provided by Health Management and Research Institute (HMRI) immediately sorts and prioritises calls. Those needing an ambulance pick up are guided to 108 and EMRI. Acute non-life threatening cases are given advice on how to stabilise their condition and directed to appropriate nearby clinics or hospitals.
The majority of 104 calls are not for emergency help, and often seek advice on difficult psychological problems. Calls are routed to a doctor, nurse practitioner, or psychologist as required. Ayurvedic and homeopathic doctors are also available for advice. Future targets
The 104 workers currently operate from a call centre in Hyderabad. The target for the year is to increase the number of doctors in the call centre to about 200 and hire about 2000 paramedics, from about 50 doctors and 250 paramedics currently on staff. About one-quarter of the calls require professional medical advice and about half the calls originate from small farming villages with no permanent medical infrastructure. Shortly EMRI will field-test a mobile hospital.
The Indian Government assures that each village is visited weekly by a health worker trained to give basic medical assistance, primarily to pregnant women. These women are called Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers. Doctors at HMRI have begun to provide non-prescription drugs to the ASHAs for dispensing upon advice from a 104 call.
How were these remarkable organisations conceived? The 108 and 104 call centres were conceived by three visionaries: Ramalinga Raju founder Chairman and CEO of Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer Services Ltd.; Dr. Ranga Rao and Dr. Balaji Utla.
Raju had previously created the Byrraju Foundation to support rural health development in more than 100 villages in Andhra. Dr. Rao worked for many years in the State health ministry. Dr. Utla, responsible for creating one of the largest corporate volunteering efforts in India, is also CEO of HMRI.
The Satyam Foundation, with personal funds from Raju, initially funded EMRI’s world-class call centre, helping develop hardware and software needs, ambulances, staffing and office space. EMRI also established a two-year post graduation programme in emergency care with guidance from the Stanford School of Medicine. The EMRI team visited emergency response centres throughout the United States, Europe and Asia to discover best practices. EMRI and HMRI have also benefited from continuous inputs from McKinsey management consultants.Partnership
Operational funding for the programme was arranged through the State Government. Today, EMRI is a Public-Private Partnership. EMRI and Ramalinga Raju, through a private foundation, provide support for senior management, continued software development and research.
Recently, the Indian Government, contracted EMRI to undertake expansion of the emergency response network, which will be operative in ten states by the end of 2008.
Satyam Computer Services Ltd has recently formed a joint venture with Cisco, Satyam Global Life Net, to bring together communication technologies and applications for health services. They hold the intellectual property rights of EMRI and HMRI and will soon be offering consulting services to countries, states and municipalities outside of India to provide similar services.
In calling home to serve her own health needs, India may also help the rest of the world meet theirs.
6 months ago